Dalisclock plays through the Dragon Age Trilogy and makes a lot of running commentary along the way. Spoilers abound.

Gordon_4

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Yeah, the qunari are an interesting faction in premise. The writing sometimes lives up to that but more often seems to stumble.

Bioware has moments of great writing and quitte a few moments of crappy writing. We just seem to remember the good stuff a lot more.
Its like anything really, especially when there's so much of it. If I remember Star Trek, its episodes like Balance of Terror or the Corbomite Manoeuvre or the Doomsday Machine, or Measure of Man, Best of Both Worlds, Darmok, or the Offspring as opposed to shit like Spock's Brain, or Angel One, or that one episode where Tasha gets captured by the leader of Shitty!Wakanda in SPACE!
 
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To me the quest made sense on a thematic level but was far too truncated and badly presented to work as was intended. I don’t agree that it’s a particular author’s hand at work though: it’s the hands of everyone who’s written the Qunari from DragonAge’s beginning. Plus for all the Inquisition has been gathering support from the two primary nations it’s involved with, neither Ferelden nor Orlais are going approve or support you formally allying with an ostensibly (although certainly not outright) hostile foreign power.

Or, more basically: BlackWater can’t have it’s Headquarters in Virginia and also become a formal ally of China without some eyebrows being raised and questions asked.
Clarification: When I say "the hand of the author", I am not pointing a finger at any specific person. I do not intend it to mean any particular author's influence. I mean it as a turn of phrase indicating that the way things happened in the story very clearly happened for Doylist reasons rather than Watsonian reasons. To use an old favorite punching bag, I've applied similar criticism to how The Force Awakens seemingly let the entire galaxy see the destruction of the Hosnian system in the daytime sky in real time despite the system being lightyears away. The scene exists because Abrams et al wanted a cool visual to streamline the characters learning about Starkiller Base, but it's so painfully stupid in universe that the novel had to bullshit an explanation about creating a hyperspace ripple that basically broke physics just enough to enable that visual.

See also Spider-Man's writers acknowledging the physics of sudden deceleration on the human spine just long enough to kill Gwen Stacy...and then promptly ignoring it again immediately afterwards. Or Euron Greyjoy's fleet somehow being invisible/teleporting so it could somehow ambush Danerys mid-flight in Game of Thrones. Or to use a pretty infamous example in cinema, when filming the Birds, Tippi Hendren (who played Melanie) told Director Alfred Hitchcock that she couldn't figure out her motivation for the next scene, as she could not understand why on earth - after everything her character has seen and experienced - she would go up into the attic to investigate a fluttering noise that decidedly sounds like bird wings. Hitchcock's response was famously "Because I tell you to". No Watsonian (in-character) reason, just a Doylist (authorial) reason. And that's the kind of thing that draws attention to the hand of the author.

When I say that something "makes the hand of the author apparent", what I mean is that the writing pulls the reader - at least momentarily - out of the story. That an attentive reader is not inclined to ask "why did this event happen like this", but instead "why did the author write it this way?" It's a moment that reminds you that it was the writer rather than the characters (or circumstances) that decided how events transpired.
 
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Gordon_4

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Clarification: When I say "the hand of the author", I am not pointing a finger at any specific person. I do not intend it to mean any particular author's influence. I mean it as a turn of phrase indicating that the way things happened in the story very clearly happened for Doylist reasons rather than Watsonian reasons. To use an old favorite punching bag, I've applied similar criticism to how The Force Awakens seemingly let the entire galaxy see the destruction of the Hosnian system in the daytime sky in real time despite the system being lightyears away. The scene exists because Abrams et al wanted a cool visual to streamline the characters learning about Starkiller Base, but it's so painfully stupid in universe that the novel had to bullshit an explanation about creating a hyperspace ripple that basically broke physics just enough to enable that visual.

See also Spider-Man's writers acknowledging the physics of sudden deceleration on the human spine just long enough to kill Gwen Stacy...and then promptly ignoring it again immediately afterwards. Or Euron Greyjoy's fleet somehow being invisible/teleporting to let his fleet somehow ambush Danerys mid-flight in Game of Thrones. Or to use a pretty infamous example in cinema, when filming the Birds, Tippi Hendren (who played Melanie) asked Director Alfred Hitchcock that she needed a motivation for the next scene, as she could not understand why on earth - after everything her character has seen and experienced - she would go up into the attic to investigate a fluttering noise that decidedly sounds like bird wings. Hitchcock's response was famously "Because I tell you to". No Watsonian (in-character) reason, just a Doylist (authorial) reason. And that's the kind of thing that draws attention to the hand of the author.

When I say that something "makes the hand of the author apparent", what I mean is that the writing pulls the reader - at least momentarily - out of the story. That an attentive reader is not inclined to ask "why did this event happen like this", but instead "why did the author write it this way?" It's a moment that reminds you that it was the writer rather than the characters (or circumstances) decided how events transpired.
Ah, I see. Yes I misunderstood your intention there. And in this clarified case, I agree with that level of assessment.
 

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Last night was Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts and man that was something and I mean that in a good way. The premise being that Celene, the Empress of Orlais, is apparently meant be assassinated at a Grand Fancy Party at the Winter Palace and only the Inquisition can stop this. Apparently Leliana tried to warn Celene about the plot but the messages were intercepted somehow so I must warn her myself. Complicating this are a couple of issues: The biggest is that Orlais is currently in the middle of a civil war that has been talked about going on offscreen but considering it's Orlais problem and not so much the Inquisitions(until it became the Inquisition's problem) I can buy that. There's also the issue that Orlesian politics is apparently full of this sort of skullduggery, in the form of "The Game" and Celene is always under threat of being killed any given point, it's just a matter of from whom. It's acknowledged at the Party that the threat is known but nobody really knows from whom and that's the trick, isn't it? The point of the party is to figure out who plans to commit the assassination and how and then presumably try to prevent it. Or don't because it's brought up it doesn't matter too much who is running Orlais as long as it doesn't collapse into chaos which would only aid Cory in his stupid world domination bid, being that Orlais is the dominant power in the South.

Over the course of the adventure at the Party it turns out there's a LOT of crazy political maneuvering going on and apparently this kind of shit is normal for these types of functions. Notably there's a particular mechanic for this mission only called "Court Approval", a meter that changes based on how well you play The Game at the Party. Being away from the party causes you to slowly lose approval(and it's required to go into closed off areas, sometimes to fight during the mission) as does being too open about your intentions(except sometimes you can ask all you questions you want and it's fine), so apparently the best way to keep or gain court approval is to be as vague or cryptic as possible when talking to nobility at the party. You can also find or eavesdrop on secrets to give to Leliana during the party to get more approval. It's quite a change from the normal gameplay and does give the impression of being a semi-chaotic battle of interests and innuendo in Orlesian high society. Especially the bits where you get approached by numerous parties hoping to curry favor and of course it's all for their own self interest and man does it get hard remember who is playing what angle after a while. Also there seem to be invisible timers which is also fun.

While I was trying to fish for the best possible solution, by the end I wimped out and decided that the ultimate goal was stability, and to that end, I saved Celene from the Assassin(you have the option to let her die and back someone else) and dished out the dirt I found on both of her rivals to remove them from the Equation. Celene may be flawed(I'm sure she's very flawed) but it feels like I would have needed to follow a guide to get the golden solution and here I was trying to play it by ear to see what happened, so it felt safest just to keep her alive and accuse the other two of treason to end the civil war. Which really is all the Inquisition needs. I wanted to try to help the leader of the elves but I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull off a play where I backed someone else but got what she wanted so went with the safe choice of Celene stays in power. Not saying it's a good choice but Orlais not collapsing is good enough for now.

I did enjoy this mission a lot despite some of the weirder aspects of it, like the bells, the combat bits which still have a court approval timer going, the halla statue keys. It felt like a more polished, more compact version of the landsmeet from DAO along with some bits from the party of "Mark of the Assassin" from DA2 thrown in(the coin game). I'm sure on a second run I could get a very specific ending(and I did save before the mission so I could replay it with that in mind).

On a lighter note, I brought Bull, Sera and Vivienne with me and while Vivienne was in her element, Sera had a lot of snark and Bull was just amusing to hear his thoughts(and since Bull is a spy or at least has spy training he does fit the setting) though I have to wonder how long it took to tailor a fancy uniform for him to fit into being the big boy he is.
 

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On a much lighter note, there's a War Table mission with trying to deal with some Venatori infiltrators in Denerim and if Alister is king you get this amusing note from him.

I feel like we should have met, seeing as you were camped in the western part of my country... until someone wiped Haven off the map. MY map. That was annoying. First I have one army in Ferelden without a by-your-leave, and then there are two? But I digress. My point is that I'm King Alistair, Ruler of Ferelden, and I've learned who was behind that second army. His cult of Tevinter followers is supposedly in the royal palace. Somewhere. Cackling, no doubt.

Seeing as your Inquisition knows far more about them, I'm hoping you could help us find these cultists and ask them all to leave. With pointy swords. I don't even want to know what they're up to - one Archdemon per age is really all Ferelden can stomach, thank you very much.


When the mission is finished, you get this response from him.

Well, that was bracing! A pitched battle with evil mages disguised as kitchen servants, fireballs flying and swords flashing... it brings back old times. I won't be eating anything coming out of those kitchens for a while, let me tell you. I wonder if they were going to poison me? Nasty little cultists. Anyhow, I'm grateful for the Inquisition's help. We wouldn't have found them without you.

It's impossible for me to read that without hearing Alister's voice.
 
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Gordon_4

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Last night was Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts and man that was something and I mean that in a good way. The premise being that Celene, the Empress of Orlais, is apparently meant be assassinated at a Grand Fancy Party at the Winter Palace and only the Inquisition can stop this. Apparently Leliana tried to warn Celene about the plot but the messages were intercepted somehow so I must warn her myself. Complicating this are a couple of issues: The biggest is that Orlais is currently in the middle of a civil war that has been talked about going on offscreen but considering it's Orlais problem and not so much the Inquisitions(until it became the Inquisition's problem) I can buy that. There's also the issue that Orlesian politics is apparently full of this sort of skullduggery, in the form of "The Game" and Celene is always under threat of being killed any given point, it's just a matter of from whom. It's acknowledged at the Party that the threat is known but nobody really knows from whom and that's the trick, isn't it? The point of the party is to figure out who plans to commit the assassination and how and then presumably try to prevent it. Or don't because it's brought up it doesn't matter too much who is running Orlais as long as it doesn't collapse into chaos which would only aid Cory in his stupid world domination bid, being that Orlais is the dominant power in the South.

Over the course of the adventure at the Party it turns out there's a LOT of crazy political maneuvering going on and apparently this kind of shit is normal for these types of functions. Notably there's a particular mechanic for this mission only called "Court Approval", a meter that changes based on how well you play The Game at the Party. Being away from the party causes you to slowly lose approval(and it's required to go into closed off areas, sometimes to fight during the mission) as does being too open about your intentions(except sometimes you can ask all you questions you want and it's fine), so apparently the best way to keep or gain court approval is to be as vague or cryptic as possible when talking to nobility at the party. You can also find or eavesdrop on secrets to give to Leliana during the party to get more approval. It's quite a change from the normal gameplay and does give the impression of being a semi-chaotic battle of interests and innuendo in Orlesian high society. Especially the bits where you get approached by numerous parties hoping to curry favor and of course it's all for their own self interest and man does it get hard remember who is playing what angle after a while. Also there seem to be invisible timers which is also fun.

While I was trying to fish for the best possible solution, by the end I wimped out and decided that the ultimate goal was stability, and to that end, I saved Celene from the Assassin(you have the option to let her die and back someone else) and dished out the dirt I found on both of her rivals to remove them from the Equation. Celene may be flawed(I'm sure she's very flawed) but it feels like I would have needed to follow a guide to get the golden solution and here I was trying to play it by ear to see what happened, so it felt safest just to keep her alive and accuse the other two of treason to end the civil war. Which really is all the Inquisition needs. I wanted to try to help the leader of the elves but I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull off a play where I backed someone else but got what she wanted so went with the safe choice of Celene stays in power. Not saying it's a good choice but Orlais not collapsing is good enough for now.

I did enjoy this mission a lot despite some of the weirder aspects of it, like the bells, the combat bits which still have a court approval timer going, the halla statue keys. It felt like a more polished, more compact version of the landsmeet from DAO along with some bits from the party of "Mark of the Assassin" from DA2 thrown in(the coin game). I'm sure on a second run I could get a very specific ending(and I did save before the mission so I could replay it with that in mind).

On a lighter note, I brought Bull, Sera and Vivienne with me and while Vivienne was in her element, Sera had a lot of snark and Bull was just amusing to hear his thoughts(and since Bull is a spy or at least has spy training he does fit the setting) though I have to wonder how long it took to tailor a fancy uniform for him to fit into being the big boy he is.
Best designed mission in the game, hands down.

Did you run into Morrigan?
 
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Best designed mission in the game, hands down.

Did you run into Morrigan?

I did. Somehow forgot to mention her but that was pretty cool. And now she's hanging out at Skyhold to boot.

It is really nice to see her again to be sure.
 
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meiam

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I agree that its a great mission, but I found it just reflected all the weakness of the game. There's supposed to be this massive civil war that's just sorta happening in background, you know almost nothing about it, not what either side stand for or any ramification of what would happen if one side prevail. You don't even meet the various actor in it before you get to this mission. And yet you have to decide what happens right away, they present everyone to you quickly and then ask you to chose the winner. Oh and none of it matter. It felt more like a big side quest than a main quest.
 
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I agree that its a great mission, but I found it just reflected all the weakness of the game. There's supposed to be this massive civil war that's just sorta happening in background, you know almost nothing about it, not what either side stand for or any ramification of what would happen if one side prevail. You don't even meet the various actor in it before you get to this mission. And yet you have to decide what happens right away, they present everyone to you quickly and then ask you to chose the winner. Oh and none of it matter. It felt more like a big side quest than a main quest.
I agree with most of that. It has been foreshadowed for a while that the Orlesian politics were gonna become important but at the same time you've barely heard anything about the Civil War unless maybe you've been reading the Codex really closely and suddenly you're thrust neck deep into it. And I do wish we'd gotten more background on the sides prior to this because I'm just meant to figure it all out on the fly. I do like the fact it does seem to give the impression of the cloak and dagger politics of the game and I'm willing to give some of this a pass due to the fact the Inquisition's job isn't supposed to be connected to the Orlesian civil war. At the same time, I'm really, really getting the feeling Bioware had very grand ambitions for this game and was trying desperately to make a game that reflected them, but at times it felt like we got the width of an ocean and the depth of a puddle of a lot of this stuff. Don't get me wrong, some bits are fairly invovlved but those are the particularly deep spots and there are only a handful of them.

Just off the top of my head, the stuff the game has tried to cover so far:
-The Mage/Templar War.
-The Machinations of Cory and his pet dragon and his personal cult
-Tevinter fucking around in the South
-The Wardens losing their shit and going all in on blood magic and demon summoning forcing the inqusition to kill quite a few of them in the process.
-The Red Lyrium showing up in big ass pockets near the surface
-The Seekers going AWOL
-The Chantry being effectively decapitated and being unable to moderate the other crazy shit going on
-Orlesian Politics and the Civil War
-The Breach and the demons coming through threatening the South in Particular and the world in general.
-The Rise of the Inquisition due to nobody being able to really deal with shit in any of the existing power structures(Orlais is too divided, Ferelden is still recovering from the blight and is a minor player in Thedas politics, Tevinter and the Qunari are at each other's throats most of the time, The Mages and Templars are also going at each other and the Chantry lost most of it's leadership when the temple exploded).
-Picking a New Divine, which gets brought up every so often but apparently everyone who had any real sway got blown up at the conclave

That's a lot of stuff and while some of it isn't that germaine to what's going on, it feels like they tried to cover way too much with the amount of content that's in it. And the fact a lot of that content is basically piddy MMO questing really doesn't help. There are some good quests in the game and some really good quests, but there's a lot of fluff as well and some of the content feels phoned in(the Qunari warship quest in particular).

Like the entire Mage/Templar War seems to end when you pick a side in that conflict and I guess the other one just got wiped out at Haven. I kind of assumed it was still going on in the background until I visited Redcliffe after picking the Templars and finding out the war was basically over via the background chatter.....I mean, Bioware, this is how you tell me that that conflict is over? Really? I mean, that was the entire setup for the conclave and you just kinda toss it aside after Haven?

There's a lot I like about this game but there's also a lot of missed potential as well. It kind of feels like ME3 in a way where they wanted to show something big and amazing and to some extent they succeeded but not nearly as much as they really wanted to. This almost feels like it might have made more sense as a Crusader Kings type game in a way, and I think the reason that springs to mind is that WEWH feels like something out of Crusader kings. I don't think that would be workable either but I don't know.
 
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A couple of side quests done. Spent a bunch of time rebalancing my inventory after picking up a bunch of shit in WEWH and upgrading my dudes equipment. THe 60 item inventory limit is kind of a pain and a I haven't gotten around to installing a mod that upgrades it yet, so I need to store or sell of my shit pretty often. I've also been trying to craft/find upgrades for Bianca for Varric(there's a vendor who sells upgrades in skyhold) and craft tier 3 armor/weapons for my party, starting with some of the people i use the most(Varric, Solas and Iron Bull). So that took a while.

Sera invited me on a pranking quest, which was interesting. None of the pranks were particularly mean, other then many dropping water on Josephines head via the old "Bucket on a door" trick so I went along with it and it was....interesting. I do notice Sera didn't want to get into Leliana's special box because "Pranks aren't meant to be invasive" and I mean, it's a less jerky side to her then I've seen before. Immature, sure, but mostly harmless(Sorry, Josephine).

Speaking of Leliana and her secrets, I went with her to chapel to find something special and ended up with Leliana cutting a priests throat out of paranoia and getting an empty box from the Divine saying she was sorry for using Leliana like she did. Leliana, on her part, seemed to recommit herself to being a cutthroat spymaster no matter what i said or did(I couldn't stop her from cutting the lady's throat in the chapel) and I get the feeling this was the endpoint of a string of decisions I'd made along the way to determine if she'd stay hardened or soften up. I'm not entirely sure which decisions affect this but she accused me of being integral to this "After all you've said and done until now?". I'm not even sure what it affects but I think I'd have to have checked a guide along the way. But watching her cut that lady's throat, regardless of being a spy, and then ordering a kidnapping on the behalf of the inquisition to pressure a grand cleric was kind of disturbing to watching, especially with Leliana going "Don't worry. I'm the way I should be". So I think I've missed my chance here, probably some time ago.

Did a quest for cole, where he was worried he'd be bound by Cory being a Spirit-thing(?) and found out about his backstory, which was interesting. Reminded me of Justice except in this case Cole apparently wasn't possessing a body and there was a choice to make him more human or more spirit so he could be protected from being leashed. Still not sure exactly how that worked but it was interesting.

There was a brief letter from the Hero of Ferelden at the War table saying "Sorry, can't help. On a mission of my own. He's some goodies though" which I guess I should have expected due to the difficulty of having the Warden show up considering but I hoped for a little more honestly.
 

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Speaking of Leliana and her secrets, I went with her to chapel to find something special and ended up with Leliana cutting a priests throat out of paranoia and getting an empty box from the Divine saying she was sorry for using Leliana like she did. Leliana, on her part, seemed to recommit herself to being a cutthroat spymaster no matter what i said or did(I couldn't stop her from cutting the lady's throat in the chapel) and I get the feeling this was the endpoint of a string of decisions I'd made along the way to determine if she'd stay hardened or soften up. I'm not entirely sure which decisions affect this but she accused me of being integral to this "After all you've said and done until now?". I'm not even sure what it affects but I think I'd have to have checked a guide along the way. But watching her cut that lady's throat, regardless of being a spy, and then ordering a kidnapping on the behalf of the inquisition to pressure a grand cleric was kind of disturbing to watching, especially with Leliana going "Don't worry. I'm the way I should be". So I think I've missed my chance here, probably some time ago.
Correct. 'Softening' Leliana is accomplished over multiple interactions. Though it's not an especially lengthy process, pretty much every step has the potential to lock her into her 'hardened' personality and out of the softened one. Step by step guide:

Step 1: In Haven, there's a conversation in which Leliana decides that a traitor needs to be executed. You specifically have to question that decision with the 'do you have to kill him' choice.
Step 2: In an early dialogue after arriving at Skyhold, she's beating herself up about Cory destroying Haven. This dialogue is optional in softening, but if you do proc it, you have to avoid blaming her, and tell her that the Inquisition's people are not disposable.
Step 3: You have to convince Leliana to let Natalie go rather than kill her. This is not possible if Steps 1 and 2 were not followed.
Step 4: Tell her to stop torturing herself in the box conversation.

The long and short of it is that at the story's start she's fully devoted to being an assassin's knife for the Inquisition, and softening her is all about reminding her that a life's value is not determined by how useful they are to the Inquisition...which obviously reflects on her views about her own life as well.

For the most part, the in-game effect is minimal, mostly only felt with certain epilogue options.
 
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Gordon_4

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Sera invited me on a pranking quest, which was interesting. None of the pranks were particularly mean, other then many dropping water on Josephines head via the old "Bucket on a door" trick so I went along with it and it was....interesting. I do notice Sera didn't want to get into Leliana's special box because "Pranks aren't meant to be invasive"
Read as "Josephine and Cassandra won't slit my throat in my sleep for being a nosy ***** with no regard for person or property"
 
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Read as "Josephine and Cassandra won't slit my throat in my sleep for being a nosy ***** with no regard for person or property"
Fair enough. Josephine is mad and I'm not sure Cullen even noticed that his desk is unbalanced. Leliana, yeah, she'd cut anyone if she felt she'd gain from it. Or just araign an "accident" to befall Sera.
 

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Maybe it was based on places I ate in Paris a couple years back few of which could have been considered high end( I think one place had Foi Gras and goose as a big part of it's menu) but I think the conception of "French" food is based a lot off fancy ass expensive restaurants which I don't think is the type of food the average french person eats on a regular basis. I'm basing this entirely off personal experience though and am not a expert on French food/culture so I might be totally wrong.
Nah, I was talking the Haute Cuisine bullshit not what the average French person ate.

And German Bread is superior to French Bread and I will fucking die on this hill and take every fucker with me.
 

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Give me your top three. Give me an excuse to stop buying the French stuff :p
Fuck that noise, 'tis the SEASON FOR STOLLEN. GET STOLLEN, EAT STOLLEN, LOVE STOLLEN.

Also, most of the 'german' bakeries in Australia are kinda... meh... they do brezel and 100 types of rye bread (as expected) and bee sting cake but it drops off fast after that. It's even worse in states that don't have mettwurst (no pun)
 
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